We entered the woodland car park and as I swung the car into a position I noticed a plum coloured 3 piece suite in the corner…not there the last time we walked here! I had chosen these woods as I hoped that the autumn colours would be good, lots of sweet chestnut trees which goes a strong yellow, I had even brought my camera.
I could hear the babble of voices and we soon came across a mother with two young children and a black dog walking along the path, and I think they had the same idea as me to look at the colours of the trees. I marched on a bit after that as I didn’t really want people watching me take photos, didn’t even really know what I was going to take photos of but we went ‘off piste’ into yellowy part of the woods with no paths but it seemed to attract the sun. So we explored that bit. I found myself wanting to take my photos out of focus! We moved on thorough the yellow bit and came out on a path.

We met a woman walking with her dog and I wondered if she was going to ask me about my camera as that I was still holding, it felt very showy as I had a long lens attached. But no this conversation started with Cosmo as it often does, “isn’t he lovely….is he a doodle of some kind”? Yes I said and so is yours? (Cosmo is big and yellow, hers was small and black) She said, “he’s a Cockerpoo” and then the conversation begins to steer towards her previous dog and I beginning to realise I have met this woman 2-3 times before in these woods and now I know I definitely have as I can see her watching my face all the time I am talking.
She is roughly my age probably a little younger but completely deaf and her dog is a working dog that is her ears. She is amazing you would never know that she can’t hear a word you say.
I steer the conversation away from dog cancer (which accounted for her previous dog) to the age of dogs and she tells me her newish dog is about 2 years old she asks me how old Cosmo is? “He’s over 8 years now and if I add that up at one year = 7 years he is at least 56″! She says that ratio does not work all through their life it is slower at the younger part of their lives! I said that me and Cosmo are sharing our middle age together….she replied, laughing ….”I’m an adolescent”.

Next I see a friend of mine walking along holding hands with a blonde woman who I immediately recognise as not his wife! He has not seen me yet and I think I might turn right around now, but no, I carry on as I know he will recognise Cosmo who is crossing their path. They point at him and he says to me “I thought I recognised Cosmo”. I don’t quite know what to say as while I visually check that this is not his wife, and use Cosmo as a diversion as I see him drinking in a muddy puddle.”He’ll lie down in that puddle now” I say, and on cue Cosmo eases himself down slowly and settles into the puddle and makes himself comfortable. She puts her hands over her mouth and says ” Oh No”. Cosmo stands up muddy tide mark all the way around his body and water gushing down onto the ground. My friend says “Is he getting in the back of your car like that? I said not quite, he will find a load of leaves to roll in get some of it off before we get back to the car. I think he likes to take the smell of the walk home with him, so he can relive it again through smell during the night in his dreams!

After that my phone beeps and a have an old friend who wants to connect on Linked In. Cosmo finds a happy family climbing on a fallen tree. The children make a fuss of him and the farther (who is wearing a strange hat) asks me if there is a clearing just ahead? I said, it depends what you mean by a clearing? I was struggling to think what he meant.
He said, “We just met an old lady on crutches who said there was a clearing very close, just along here..she was adamant it was there”!
I said, “Well if you walk 5 mins along this path there is a cross roads and the trees thin out a bit as the paths are quite wide”.
he said, ” do you mean cross paths”
I said , “Yes it is not a road, the road is way over there” and pointed. This was a strange conversation. Interpretations of what a clearing and a path are, laughing children, Man with a strange hat and old ladies on crutches in the middle of very muddy slippery woods full of deep puddles, it all starts getting a little weird.
And we are back in the car listening to Kate Bush “In the Trees its coming” from the Hounds of Love.


If I’m honest I was a little disappointed with my paints. Actually more specifically I was disappointed with my paintings not the paints, they were never going to handle like paints bought in a shop. The pigment quality was inferior but that was not the point at all. It was local colour about local landscape and I should have been able to make things work better. I did have some very good results, but this is the rub: I tried to paint like the last time I painted, probably something like 25-30 years ago, where I never really had a plan, just push things around until I was pleased…… I can’t really do that now, firstly for home made paint reasons like covering power and techniques I used to employ just seem better suited to oils. I have been using acrylic and water based varnishes as they dry so much quicker which I like. I just find myself wanting to organise the picture so much more than when I was a student. I guess after all these years I design things in one medium for execution in another. The act of painting just seems a little week all on its own now?
Anyway…I am sure I will return to the paints at some point when I have the right approach. I want to try making them in oil to see how they work in comparison to acrylics. I think a second visit I will approach the whole thing differently.
I have realised my heart is not in it and I have been drawing maps of dog walks with Cosmo instead. This feels much more comfortable as I am enjoying laying out the whole picture and working out how to organise the information within the page….very much a design task, which I am enjoying.
I have set myself a small project:
6 artist benches are now all installed along the stretch of coastline where I live, each bench has been made by a different artist, my one is called ‘The Groyne Wood Bench’. So I have decided to draw a map of a dog walk to visit each one in turn.

Two walks to the same place. The first walk turned out to be before the bench was installed. The second walk is exactly the same route only it had been installed the second time.


Can you remember what you did on the day Scotland didn’t vote YES?
I can.

‘Remembering a dog walk on the day Scotland didn’t vote YES’

It was foggy on our walk and notably quieter somehow, the birds seemed louder and the sound of the sea seemed to penetrate into my mind more than usual.

But what was really weird was a noise I was utterly unable to explain..and I had no visual clues to go by whatsoever. All I could say to myself was it might be made by a violin and must be someone filming a video out in the fog, by the waters edge?

So me and Cosmo set off in search of the source of this noise…
It turned out to be two guys with a metal detector combing the beach as the tide was out. They found a 9mm bullet while we spoke together and said how eerie it was out here in the fog with very poor visibility. They also told me hundreds of years ago a church was build on a sand bar 5 miles out to sea and they hoped to find some evidence to support that story. I had read something similar in a local history book which said that rapid coastal erosion had taken almost the entire village of Reculver off the map. The remains of the church are still there and form a well known landmark today. So I doubt that there were two churches in Reculver, but a spooky story on a foggy day.

The other thing I was going to say which has nothing to do with Cosmo, was we had just returned from a holiday on the Isle of Skye a few days before the vote and took quite a collection of various ‘YES’ photos as we travelled around (here is one)

We spent an entire week using the artist open houses catalogue to plan our days and drive round and see/talk to so many artists, makers, printers, calligraphers, weavers and so many more great things. An arts tour of the Highlands and Islands. Truly fab and great to see people documenting the place where they live in so many ways.


I have decided to tell the same story again!
This time without photos or words.
A picture of the dog walk!
probably should describe it as a map of the dog walk.

A drawing to describe the events that day!